National food distributor United Natural Foods Inc. has established safety protocols, provided temporary pay increases and changed some policies to ensure that its distribution center employees continue to provide good and services during the coronavirus emergency, it announced Thursday.
"As Americans continue to look to us to help keep stores across the country well-stocked during this national emergency, we are fully committed to supporting our valued associates and working to meet their needs," said Steven L. Spinner, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our 21,000 associates are at the very heart of the food distribution sector's around-the-clock effort to keep America fed and prepared amidst the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
"We hope our new protocols will provide an important degree of assurance and comfort to our world-class workforce, especially as cases inevitably increase in the weeks ahead and deliveries become more difficult amidst widespread business closures," he added.
UNFI distribution center teams—from selectors and sales support to forklift operators and truck drivers, as well as all support staff—are essential workers in helping ensure the company continues to fulfill its role in the North American food supply chain.
In recognition of associates' dedication and efforts during this time of national emergency, UNFI is enacting several new protocols designed to provide assurance and safety to our workforce:
- Full-time and part-time direct labor associates and drivers will receive a Temporary State of Emergency Bonus of $2 per hour on top of their regular wages and overtime hours for time worked through March 31.
- Enhanced flexibility and exceptions to attendance policies and productivity expectations have been put in place.
- Fortified safety for our drivers and warehouse associates.
- Fourteen additional days of paid sick leave for associates if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Up to 14 days of additional paid leave for associates if a facility is closed due to COVID-19.
- UNFI Assist, UNFI's umbrella for its corporate social responsibility program, will fund grants to associates who experience COVID-19 financial hardships.
"Our associates have done a tremendous job keeping UNFI's supply chain secure and stable as customer demand has surged to unprecedented levels," added Paul Green, chief supply chain officer. "They continue to go the extra mile and put the needs of our customers first despite long hours and large workloads. This is why we, in turn, will continue to do whatever is in our power to prioritize their health and wellbeing at all times."
Chief Legal Officer Jill Sutton added, "We have robust business planning and continuity programs in place that our teams are executing on with tremendous focus, effective protocols and care for our workforce.
"We believe these efforts will continue to allow us to keep our associates and our communities safe. We will not be deterred from carrying out our essential mission of providing the high-quality food products that our customers have come to expect of us during this critical time."
Source: UNFI Inc.